Aussie Associate tour set for spring

USA divided as rebel body gains ground

Cool by Association is your regular wrap of all things Associate and Affiliate from developing cricket nations around the world.

Fab Four to hit Aussie shores

In massive news for Australian associate cricket fans, four of the top non-Test playing nations will tour Down Under in September and October ahead of the 2015 ICC World Cup.

Qualifiers Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates will be looking for a competitive edge over their more-fancied World Cup rivals in conditions similar to what they’ll find in Australia and New Zealand.

The tour is another example of a growing trend of full members supporting their associate and affiliate colleagues, said ICC Head of Development Tim Anderson.

“I think the fact that our full members seem to be engaging more and more with individual countries is a really good thing,” Anderson said at the ICC Board Meeting in Melbourne last week.

“The four World Cup qualifying countries will be coming to Australia and New Zealand for a warm-up tour in September and October.

“The Asian full members invited Afghanistan to play in the Asia Cup, the West Indies Cricket Board is taking a much greater interest in what’s happening in the USA, and the ECB continue to provide opportunities to Scotland and Ireland to play ODI cricket.”

Heading into the board meeting, the biggest concern for associate nations was the reduction, from four to two, of non-full member World Cup positions starting in 2019.

Despite the concerns, Anderson says associate and affiliate cricket, and its role in the international cricket landscape, is more relevant than ever.

“Change is always difficult,” he added, “but I feel pretty good about the future.

“Outside of the changes that are happening at an ICC level, I think the fact that full members are actually starting to take more of an interest and more ownership of trying to help countries in their geographical area is fantastic.”

American civil war

The United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) has been put on notice by the ICC following the rise of a second national governing body; the American Cricket Federation (ACF).

According to ICC governance statute 3.1, members must demonstrate they have a sole recognised governing body for their country and the ACF’s presence, and its recent success, puts USACA’s official position under threat.

If the situation is not rectified within 12 months, USACA will be suspended – with the risk of removal if they can’t establish themselves as the sole governing body within a further 12 months.

The notice is yet another blow for the embattled organisation, whose crippling debts are in stark contrast to the financial situation of their unofficial rivals.

Sports gear manufacturer Newberry recently signed on as the naming-rights sponsor for the ACF’s 40-over competition and will provide uniforms and equipment for its teams.

Over the last twelve months, USACA has lost close to a third of their league members to the unofficial ACF.

In other news to come out of the ICC Board Meeting, Nepal, Malawi, Morocco and Turkey were also put on notice for administration breaches and Brunei was suspended.

Closer to home, Tonga was removed as an affiliate member after repeatedly failing to meet required ICC member standards.

A new Asian superpower?

Malaysia’s unlikely run towards the 2019 ICC World Cup has gained momentum at the World Cricket League Division Four tournament in Singapore.

After earning promotion through a runners-up finish in the WCL Division Five tournament in Jersey, Malaysia defeated hosts Singapore in the final to ensure promotion to December’s Division 3 event in Nepal.

Wily off-spinner Shahrulnizam Yusof proved the difference for the champs, picking up 16 wickets at an average 12.12 to top the tournament bowling table.

Opener Nasir ‘The Freak’ Shafiq and first-drop Ahmed Faiz made sure the boys in purple got off to solid starts throughout, the pair combining for 465 runs to account for 49 per cent of their side’s total output.

A second-place finish for Singapore  booked their place in Nepal, with Chaminda ‘Boss’ Ruwan’s tournament-leading 343 runs at 85.50 the stand out.

Recently promoted Jersey will head back to Division Five in 2016 along with Oman after finishing in the bottom two, while Denmark and Italy’s third and fourth-place finishes respectively sees them hang on in Division Four.

Norway? Yes way.

Scandinavian up-and-comers Norway took home the ICC Europe Division Two Championship crown and a promotion to Division One in Essex, England.

Needing a win against pre-tournament favourites Germany to avoid being leap-frogged by the winner of Austria v Belgium, the final match loomed as a nail-biting affair for Norway.

But, after knocking the German’s over for 110 and chasing down the total inside 15 overs, all concerns were washed away and the red and black’s descent from major World Cricket League players to European also-rans was complete.

Norway’s Safir ‘so-good’ Hayat led the tournament with 10 wickets at 11.10, while Ehtsham Ul ‘or-nothing‘ Haq, Muhammad Shahbaz Butt and veteran Zaheer Ashiq led the way with the bat for the champs.

Austrian allrounder Shadnan ‘Sure-Can’ Khan took home the tournament MVP; his 268 runs at 38.29 and nine wickets at 17.44 far and away the tournament’s dominant individual performance.

In the week’s feel-good story Isle of Man and Gibraltar, nations of approximately 85,000 and 30,000 people respectively, managed three wins between them to remain in Europe’s second-highest regional competition.

Image courtesy of Malaysian Cricket Association